Potters held to Baggies bore draw.
Saturday 15th March
Stoke were held to a goalless draw by local rivals West Brom on a dull afternoon in the potteries. The point was enough to propel Tony Pulis side back into the top half of the premier league and edge another step closer to securing Premier League survival.
In a game of very few chances it was Kenwyne Jones who had the Potters best chance deep into stoppage time. He took Geoff Cameron`s long ball on his chest and poked a first time volley towards goal but could only find the grateful arms of Ben Foster, either side and it was a certain goal but that would have been harsh on The Baggies who defended stoutly and will feel they were good value for their point.
West Brom had the better of the first half and had a half chance through Chris Brunt who`s shot from the angle was comfortably saved by Asmir Begovic, that was the only real incident in a first half where once again stoke lacked a cutting edge and struggled to create any meaningful opportunities.
Despite Stoke piling on the pressure in the second half it was the visitors who had the better opportunities. Lukaku should have done better with a headed chance from six yards; the big striker missed the ball when it seemed easier to score. Billy Jones also went close when Brunt`s free kick deflected off the wall straight to the defender who drilled a shot across Begovic, he beat the Stoke stopper but the ball was forced wide by the retreating defenders.
Stoke were urged forward by a boisterous Britannia crowd, forcing West Brom to hang on but clear cut chances were of a premium. Substitute Charlie Adam had two free kicks in dangerous areas but he could not force Foster into a save. In a what was a poor game the only other second half highlight came when fans at the back of the Boothen End erupted into a chorus of "that`s why we sit up here" to those at the front as a torrential rain storm soaked all in its path.
There were positives for Tony Pulis to take from this stalemate, the constant backing from the stands was right appreciated post match by the Stoke manager. Despite more than a few rumblings of discontent amongst supporters, they were right behind their team from first whistle to last. The performance and effort on show was much improved from the dismal showing against West Ham and a clean sheet will also be very welcome for a reshuffled defence.
However there are still issues that will be worrying a number of supporters, one shot on target, which came in the 93rd minute is not good enough at home and the lack of cutting edge really needs to be addressed if Stoke are to secure a top ten finish.